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Poster: woolley Date: Jan 17, 2005 8:24am
Forum: naropa Subject: Re: the Literary history of Beat Gen lectures

In reply to the first message on the topic of phychoanalysis:
although you are not a big fan of William S. Burroughs
I think you may find it interesting to look into his concetions with phychoanalysis.
Burroughs was, at one time, in psychoanalysis with Dr Paul Federn (among others) who had been an early pupil of Freud, Federn referred Burroughs to a hypnoanalyst who believed in the acting out of characters found in hypnosis.
Burroughs’ three most important characters were: A simpering English governess, who constantly shrieked and giggled, a psychotic southern sheriff who sat on his porch with a shotgun over his knees, and a bald-skulled Chinese man, absolutely alone on the banks of the Yangtze.
At this time Burroughs lived on 115th st in N.Y. with Joan, Kerouac and Ginsberg. They would sit around dressed as their various characters going through routines where situations were developed until breaking point and then repeated trying to tackle any possible variation. The wide range of source material came from things such as analysis, dreams and overheard conversations, although Burroughs did not yet consider himself a writer, this method of routines and repetition became the major source for his novels.
Burroughs was also ended pychoanalysis with another doctor who ended the treatment after concluding he was as 'out-and-out con' which as you can imagine, pleased Burroughs immensely.
I think this was probably the first introdution to Phychoanalysis for Ginsberg and Kerouac, but who can say.

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Poster: village_idiot Date: Jan 7, 2006 2:18am
Forum: naropa Subject: Re: the Literary history of Beat Gen lectures


do any of you know why the entire 'Literary history of Beat Gen lectures' series has been pulled? the reason given in the error message is it's because of content. but I'd figure it'm more like a mistake. no?


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Poster: Diana Hamilton Date: Jan 8, 2006 6:26am
Forum: naropa Subject: Re: the Literary history of Beat Gen lectures

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Poster: Blank Date: Jan 17, 2005 9:46pm
Forum: naropa Subject: Re: the Literary history of Beat Gen lectures

Thanks for that! I remember AG does mention the different Burroughs personalities in a lecture (I think it is part 1 but the archive is grumpy this morning). I didn't know the other details though. I also recall Allen and/or Jack undergoing some sort of therapy with Burroughs as the analyst. I also remembered Allen mentions Williams James' Variety of Religious Experience in one lecture as an important influence in determing the modern project of understanding your own mind.

Considering the anti-gay and generally oppressive nature of psychoanalysis in the 40s and 50s, I guess it is not surprising that the trio looked elsewhere. But I think in terms of discussing his poetic method, psychology and psychoanalysis' specific language and ideas might have helped Allen articulate particulars of method more clearly. In the long run I suspect it doesn't matter- Allen certainly wasn't at a loss of words to explain his method. But in trying to use and teach some of these methods in my own life, I find that some of the ideas of psychoanalysis help to overcome the thousand of micro-obstacles that arise in trying to put these into practice.

For instance, recently I was amazed to read in James Hillman's Soul of the World the following paragraph:

when I am asked "how was the bus ride?" I respond "miserable, terrible, desperate" But these words describe me, my feelings, my experience, not the bus ride which was bumpy, crowded, steamy, cramped, noxious with long waits. Even if I noticed the bus and the trip, my language transferred this attention to notions about myself. The 'I' has swallowed the bus, and my knowledge of the external world has become a subjective report of my feelings.
An aesthetic response does require these feelings but it cannot remain in them; it needs to move back to the image. And the way back to the bus ride necessitates words which notice its qualities.
Since the enlightenment our adjectives have moved from qualifying the world to describing the self...

I then thought of how the Bus Ride Ballad to Suva perfectly avoids Hillman's subjective point of view. Being from a psychoanalytic frame of reference, he uses an entirely different set of ideas to make sense of this idea (he generally suspects Buddhism of trying to silence too much whereas his goal is to get people to speak). It's as if they got to the same odd place in the woods with two completely different maps. Their subtle disagreement would have been a great chance to further refine their ideas.

If nothing else, Hillman's essay helped the Bus Ride Ballad splash a little louder and leave larger ripples and vice versa.

This post was modified by Blank on 2005-01-18 05:46:59